U.S. clean power giants to join forces to build lobbying muscle

by Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg


Highlights

  • A new lobbying organization named the American Clean Power Association has formed in order to advocate for more renewable policies
  • The country’s top wind power trade group is teaming up with some big-name energy groups such as NextEra Energy, Avangrid, and Berkshire Hathaway Energy to form this association
  • The renewables industry spent less than $18 million on lobbying in 2019, while the fossil fuel industry spent $104 million
  • The Association aims to make renewables such as wind and solar the USA’s primary power source by prioritizing environmental policy, market reform and grid modernization

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-03/u-s-clean-power-giants-to-join-forces-to-build-lobbying-muscle?sref=ABTRBDIh

Blackouts: Let’s build reliable clean power

“One factor that did not cause the rotating outage: California’s commitment to clean energy. Renewable energy did not cause the rotating outages.” That’s right, California’s climate policies and clean energy goals did not cause the state’s recent blackouts, as the three lead California energy agencies wrote in a letter to the Governor and the Legislature in August.

The solution to periods of high demand for electricity such as during heatwaves has historically been to increase supply. California Public Utilities Commission current rules require utilities to buy 15% excess energy capacity beyond what they would need during the forecast peaks for a given time of year. This approach failed us in August.

A 21st-century clean, reliable, safe, and equitable energy system can make the difference.

Clean energy community microgrids can enable utilities to better target specific outages and to isolate local electricity generation from the larger grid. This would ensure that essential governmental, health, and other services would remain powered in communities during outages.

As I wrote in The Climate Center’s op-ed published this past Sunday in the Sacramento Bee, “With wildfire season fully upon us, more power shutoffs leaving Californians in the dark are imminent. Add an economic crisis and a pandemic and it’s clear there is no time to lose.”

Sadly, PG&E’s approach to reliable power this year has included dirty diesel back-up generators that exacerbate climate change and create air pollution making us all more vulnerable to COVID– while not actually ensuring a stable grid.

Ironically, the first day that the blackouts hit, August 14, was also a deadline for formal comments on microgrids at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which regulates utilities such as PG&E. The Climate Center recently filed comments with Vote Solar urging the CPUC to fast-track its current rulemaking to open up microgrid markets and prioritize clean energy resilience for lower-income communities in particular.

We also have the technology right now to automatically reduce electricity use on the grid. Pre-agreements with large commercial and industrial customers can ensure that power is made available when needed to keep the system stable. Customers can even get paid to allow it, which is already happening in some places. The August blackouts were the result of a one-gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) shortfall, but this approach has been estimated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to have the potential to free up over 4 gigawatts for California.

The dramatic climate impacts we are seeing right now here in California are further evidence of the urgency to act on the climate crisis. Please join us in supporting Community Energy Resilience and endorse Climate-Safe California today. Our science-based goal is to achieve net-negative emissions and the start of drawdown by 2030 in California, inspiring our country and the world to accelerated climate action.

To date, we have over 500 endorsements including businesses, non-profits, individuals, and government officials (see more here). Join us to help us exceed 1000 endorsements by December before the next session of the state legislature. Share this with your family, friends, and colleagues, and ask them to endorse and engage.

Together we will build the power required to secure a just transition to a climate-safe, equitable future for all.

California Community Choice agencies eye long duration batteries for energy storage


Highlights

  • A group of 11 small scale, local agencies called Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) have issued a request for information regarding long-duration battery storage that can hold power for at least 8 hours
  • The storage can be used to take in excess solar power from the day and shift its use for night time and morning energy needs
  • The request for storage comes after the California Public Utilities Commission adopted a 46 million metric ton (MMT) greenhouse gas emission target for the electric sector by 2030 early this year
  • The request for new storage will help create new economic opportunities and help fight climate change by lessening the state’s dependence on fossil fuels in our energy system

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future


Read More: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/california-ccas-solicit-info-on-long-duration-storage-with-possible-procur/579505/

How to drive fossil fuels out of the US economy, quickly

by David Roberts, Vox


Highlights

  • A new initiative, Rewiring America founded by Saul Griffith, asserts that rapid decarbonization through electrification would create 15 million to 20 million jobs in the next decade and that it’s possible to eliminate 70 percent to 80 percent of US carbon emissions by 2035 through rapid deployment of existing electrification technologies, with little-to-no carbon capture and sequestration. 
  • Rewiring America: 
    • Asserts that successfully addressing the climate crisis will require a mobilization similar to the economic mobilization that took place in the U.S. during World War II
    • Has produced a dashboard that collects all data on how energy is used in the U.S. It tracks where every unit of energy enters the economy and how it is used as it passes through
    • Asserts that no new technology advancements are needed and no great sacrifice will be required to decarbonize the economy
    • Relies on five well-established technologies: wind power, solar power, electric vehicles, electric heat pumps, and energy storage
    • Asserts that market mechanisms will not work in time to achieve goals and that a command and control approach is what it will take.

Image from Rewiring America/Saul Griffith, sourced on Vox

 


Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/21349200/climate-change-fossil-fuels-rewiring-america-electrify

"Powerplant" by Nucho is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

New Mexico’s plan to shut down coal without leaving people behind

by Julian Spector, Greentech Media


Highlights

  • The Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to build 650 megawatts of solar power and 300 megawatts of battery capacity to divest its share of the San Juan coal plant in 2022
  • New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich advocates for solar and storage instead of any new gas facilities in New Mexico, and put emphasizes the importance of economically supporting the areas where coal plants will retire 
  • New Mexico has three coal plants and has allocated millions of dollars for the communities where these plants are and have established rate savings for customers as coal phases out
  • Sen. Heinrich notes that solar jobs don’t require as much full-time operational staff compared to traditional energy plants and says the solution needs to be broader than just the energy industry:

“Your economic development policy, it’s wise to diversify that, and not be reliant on any single economic driver for a community,”

  • A study from Energy Innovation shows that municipal and cooperative utilities could exit 22.5 gigawatts of coal power in favor of solar by 2025 while saving money for their customers

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform. The Climate Center’s guiding principles in achieving our goals include striving to close the climate gap and ensuring a just transition for workers.


Read More: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/new-mexicos-plan-to-shut-down-coal-without-leaving-people-behind

Solar installers at cohousing in Cotati, California

How local energy providers are ensuring energy resilience

by Sarah Golden, GreenBiz


Highlights

  • California’s Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) are providing ratepayers with energy resilience programs for the upcoming fire season
  • Four Northern California CCAs, East Bay Community Energy, MCE (Marin Community Energy), Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, have recently announced solar plus battery storage projects in their territories 
  • CCAs have implemented these solar and storage programs before their investor-owned utility counterparts, such as PG&E or SoCal Edison 
    • This may be due to the fact that CCAs focus on the communities in their territories and have no responsibilities to shareholders
    • Big utilities are addressing resiliency on the whole electrical grid as opposed to smaller communities 
  • Creating resilience programs takes time, as plans, solicitations, applications, and negotiation processes take many months 

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future


Read More: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/how-local-energy-providers-are-ensuring-energy-resilience

Let’s secure equitable access to resilient clean energy

The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit will address equitable approaches to clean energy resilience programs.  August 5, 2020, 9 AM – 12 PM.


As awareness of systemic poverty and racism grows, government policies and programs beyond police force budgets and protocols are also getting attention. The media is shining light on toxic oil and gas infrastructure – from freeways to oil refineries – that are often sited in lower-income communities, close to homes, schools, and hospitals and polluted air that leads to significantly lower life expectancy and higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other diseases

In California, programs designed to promote clean energy are more likely to benefit the rich than the poor who need them most. With the approaching power shut-offs that California is expecting this fire season, this inequity will continue to grow. While all communities are disrupted and suffer from power outages, lower-income households are likely to suffer most. This is because they have fewer resources to rely on in the event of an emergency, and less ability to absorb financial losses from outages. While wealthier Californians may buy back-up batteries or generators, less affluent residents can’t afford them. These same residents often suffer higher rates of respiratory illness due to pollution and are especially vulnerable when fossil backup generators are widely used during a power shut-off. And food security is an especially acute problem for low-income households that rely on school meal programs that are not accessible during power shut-offs because of the lack of refrigeration. 

A number of studies have highlighted inequities created by clean energy incentive programs. Perhaps the most striking findings come from Eric Fournier at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, with a report showing how inequities in incentives for things like rooftop solar and electric vehicles place a larger burden of cost on the least affluent, and reward wealthier people. This is especially unfortunate given that lower-income communities are using less energy than wealthier communities and are less responsible for climate change.

While there’s a lot of work yet to be done, over the past decade Environmental Justice advocates have had remarkable successes in crafting new state policies and programs to provide more equity for lower-income communities. This trend and more will be discussed at The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience Policy Summit on August 5th. Panelists will outline how we can meet the challenges of enhancing clean energy resilience while avoiding exacerbating inequalities that these incentive programs often create.

The Summit will feature an opening keynote address by Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem of Oxnard, followed by a panel providing an overview of what the state is doing now for clean energy resilience featuring Janea Scott, Vice-Chair of the California Energy Commission; Genevieve Shiroma, Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission; Eric Lamoureaux from the California Office of Emergency Services, and California Senator Henry Stern. 

A subsequent panel will provide a labor perspective, including Mark Kyle, former Chief of Staff of the California Federal of Labor, Jennifer Kropke, Director of Environmental and Workforce Engagement, IBEW, Local Union 11 & National Electrical Contractors Association Los Angeles County; and Vivian Price, researcher for the Labor Network for Sustainability and CSU Dominguez Hills Professor specializing in labor and climate change.

An Environmental Justice panel will be moderated by Janina Turner, a lead organizer in Sonoma County’s Sunrise Movement. Panelists include Mari Rose Taruc, movement organizer for environmental justice & climate solutions at Reclaim Our Power; Gabriela Orantes, a Just Recovery Fellow at the North Bay Organizing Project; and Nayamin Martinez, Executive Director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network.

The final panel, highlighting energy resilience programs of Community Choice agencies, will be moderated by Carolyn Glanton, Programs Manager at Sonoma Clean Power. Panelists include Sage Lang, Energy Program Coordinator/Analyst for Central Coast Community Energy; Stephanie Chen, Senior Policy Counsel at MCE; and JP Ross, Senior Director of Local Development, Electrification and Innovation for East Bay Community Energy. 

As California turns its attention to building energy resilience in the face of more power outages, policymakers must prioritize clean energy resilience in California’s lower-income communities. This will ensure that the Californians who are the least responsible for climate change are not suffering its worst consequences.

Register for the August 5th policy summit HERE.

Congressional climate action plan

Congressional Climate Crisis Action Plan would decarbonize U.S., add $8 trillion in benefits by 2050

by Megan Mahajan, Forbes


Highlights

  • The U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has released their climate policy report titled Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient and Just America 
  • Climate policy firm Energy Innovation modeled a subset of the Select Committee’s recommendations using a simulator and found it will hit net zero carbon dioxide emissions before 2050 and slash net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 88% from 2010 levels by 2050
  • This policy could prevent 62,000 premature deaths annually from pollution, while generating nearly $8 trillion in cumulative monetized health and climate benefits by 2050
  • Under this model, the electricity sector could reach 90% clean electricity by 2035 and 100% clean energy by 2040
  • Electrifying buildings with clean energy can deliver much-needed emissions reductions within that sector
  • 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for light-duty vehicles by 2035 and for heavy-duty vehicles by 2040 would help the transportation sector meet 2050 net-zero targets
  • More than 70% of voters support legislation targeting a 100% clean economy according to new polling

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform advocates for a formal California State commitment by 2022 to 80% below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions and net negative emissions by 2030 for a climate-safe future.


Read More: https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2020/06/30/congressional-climate-crisis-action-plan-would-decarbonize-us-add-8-trillion-in-benefits-by-2050/#56af4e331381

Oil companies are collapsing, but wind and solar energy keep growing

by Ivan Penn, The New York Times


Highlights

  • Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, may comprise 21% of the electricity in the U.S., up from about 18% in 2019
  • Solar and wind are producing electricity at a cost-competitive rate in the U.S. and throughout the globe compared to natural gas and coal due to government mandates to address the climate crisis
  • The pandemic has been hard on smaller solar companies who are seeing declines in rooftop installations
  • Energy research firm Wood Mackenzie estimates that solar and wind power will continue adding capacity throughout the year
  • Renewable energy has become more financially attractive as developers can build wind and solar farms more quickly than gas and coal plants

Fossil fuel divestment and the transition to 100% clean energy is critical to achieving The Climate Center’s goals under the Climate-Safe California Platform.


Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/07/business/energy-environment/coronavirus-oil-wind-solar-energy.html

Democrats to demand 100% emissions-free vehicles by 2035

by Ari Natter, World Oil


Highlights

  • The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis convened by Pelosi and chaired by Representative Kathy Castor of Florida, released a 500-page plan that seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, calls for achieving 100% clean vehicles by 2035, and demands an extension of a tax credit that’s successfully boosted the use of solar power
  • This plan also sets a goal of achieving net-zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2040 but does not provide a detailed plan
  • These plans may not be aggressive enough for Progressive Democrats who have called for the phase-out of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
  • New polling from the Pew Research Center shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government is not doing enough to reduce the effects of climate change

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign calls for investments and bold policies to support clean mobility, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.


Read More: https://www.worldoil.com/news/2020/6/29/democrats-to-demand-100-emissions-free-vehicles-by-2035